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Alum sparks big bang at the Emmys

By Olivia Martinez

Published: Thursday, September 16, 2010

Updated: Thursday, September 16, 2010

There was a surprising bang at the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards as Jim Parsons was called to receive the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series award for his work as Sheldon Cooper on CBS sitcom, "The Big Bang Theory."

This was the USD alumnus' second Emmy nomination for his role as a theoretical physicist, with an IQ of 187 and zero social skills. Parsons left the top names in the comedy world empty handed as he beat out nominees Steve Carrell ("The Office"), Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock"), Tony Shalhoub ("Monk"), Larry David ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") and Matthew Morrison ("Glee").

The award left many in shock, and judging by the look on Parsons' face as LL Cool J invited him onstage to receive his award, no one was more surprised than he was.

"I had a funny moment of clarity when they went down the list of nominees where I thought, ‘It's not going to happen. They're not calling your name. You're not going to have to go up there.' So by the time he read the name out, I was absolutely floored," Parsons told the Union Tribune.

According to the National Enquirer, Parsons proposed to his long time partner, Todd Spiewak, immediately following the awards. The couple is reportedly planning a trip to Massachusetts over the Christmas holiday to get married. Although Parsons and Spiewak have never publicly admitted to having a relationship, the two have been linked together for quite some time under media scrutiny.

Before his days of fame and glory, Parsons earned his Masters at USD through the Theatre Arts graduate partnership with the Old Globe Theatre in 2001. Each year, the program accepts seven students for a two-year course in classical theatre. Program director Rick Seer admitted the staff had doubts about accepting Parsons, during an interview by USD Magazine in 2009.

"We had some considerations about bringing him into the program," Seer recalled. "Jim is a very specific personality. He's thoroughly original, which is one reason he's been so successful. But we worried, ‘Does that adapt itself to classical theater, does that adapt itself to the kind of training that we're doing?' But we decided that he was so talented that we would give him a try and see how it worked out."

After graduating from the program, Parsons claims he continues to use his training all the time. In regards to his role as Sheldon, Parsons says he uses his training with breath control.

"There's a way of being ‘on top of the text,' as they used to say in Shakespeare," Parsons said. "It's very similar for me in this show, staying on top of it, because it will eat you alive otherwise. Sheldon doesn't make brush-off comments; I certainly couldn't improvise them. There's no faking my way through it if I get confused or lost. My time at USD and the Old Globe was priceless in very specifically getting me ready for this role."

To check out Parsons in action, watch the season premiere of "The Big Bang Theory" Thursday, Sept. 23, at 8 p.m. on CBS. Until then, you can catch past episodes at cbs.com/primetime/big_bang_theory.

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